Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretend you're reading this in August

This was written at the end of August, but for some reason I neglected to upload it then… woops!
As I write this, I’m sitting in a train station. I was called to PC Morocco HQ in Rabat for training, so I’m taking the train. What I didn’t know was that the train schedule changes during the month of Ramadan. Instead of four Rabat-bound trains passing through this station every day, now there is one and it doesn’t arrive until 6 hours from now. So, I’ve got some time to kill and I may as well make the most out of it; I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time, despite the wealth of free time I’ve had this past month.
It’s Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. From dawn ‘til dusk, every Moroccan may not eat food, drink water, smoke cigarettes, or copulate. Compound that with incredibly long, excruciatingly hot summer days. Due to the discrepancy between the Muslim (lunar) and Gregorian calendars, Ramadan begins 15 days earlier each year. Some years Ramadan occurs in winter, where the days are short and cold, thus minimizing the risk of dehydration. Such is not the case in August. I attempted fasting for some time, but without water in the daylight hours one gets quite loopy, and I basically cannot function without that cup of coffee each morning- my fasting stint didn’t last long. I don’t eat anything in the day as it’s too hot for an appetite to even exist. Friends of mine in town have invited me to break fast at sun-down with them and their families, and breakfast can be quite tasty; dates and olives, egg dishes, and Harira (Moroccan specialty soup).
I sleep until noon or later each day just to pass the hours. It gets quite boring in a small town where all of the cafes, stores, and businesses are closed nearly all day every day. The night life is flourishing, which is a plus.
OH! I got a house. That was nearly two months ago so it’s kinda old news by now but I haven’t really updated with anything substantial in a while. I’m living in the house that the previous volunteer occupied, and I inherited a lot of his stuff; stove, oven, space heater, 5 ponjs (couches), a full spice rack, and a lot of other goodies. He really hooked me up, so I am very grateful for his generosity. The house itself is spacious and well lit. It’s got two bedrooms, a salon, a big entrance area, a large kitchen, an indoor bathroom with separate shower room, and a private roof equal in size to the square footage of all of the aforementioned rooms. It’s too big, almost. I can’t really fill any of the rooms. Not like I’m complaining, though. I’ve got plans for the second bedroom, sort of. At this point I’m leaning towards a hammock and potted plants, although I’m open to suggestions.
I spend much of my time in the salon, as there is a faint Wi-Fi signal from a nearby cyber cafĂ© that seems through the walls and provides me with free email checking and internet browsing. The signal is weak and it cuts out often, but it’s better than nothing and I get much more than what I pay for, which –again-is nothing. The salon is nice- it’s where 90% of my stuff is. I eat in there and I’ve hung a bunch of maps that my parents sent me to liven up the walls a little. The only problem is the poor ventilation in the salon. There’s a window, but the way the room is shaped prevents good air circulation. It gets hot and stagnant in there easily.
I’ve been travelling a little bit. I went to a small town on the Mediterranean coast for the Fourth of July weekend with some other volunteers in my region and we sat on the beach, drank some beers and ate some pork. It was magical. America would be proud. A couple weeks later I traveled to a small mountain city in the center of the country for a week of ‘Post Pre-Service Training’. The training itself was valuable, but it was much more important seeing all my training friends after a couple months of separation. I also go to stop in Fes on my ways to and from PPST, which was a lot of fun. Fes is a beautiful city with plenty of good street food. Not as many fezzes as I’d been expecting, though.
My reading has slowed considerably. I finished Blood Meridian (a fucking fantastic book, to those of you I haven’t already proselytized) and then read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I’d always heard good things about it and I’d read some of Eggers’ short stories so I was eager to receive it from a friend. It’s a good read, full of funny stories with a solid basis for a story. I felt it kind of petered out at the end, as autobiographical accounts of youth may seldom have strong finales. Eggers’ writing style is unique, characterized by rambling neurotic soliloquies and a constant editorializing of events that, by his admission, probably didn’t happen with any similarity to the ways they’re described. I feel if I were to ever attempt any longhand writing it may read like Eggers’, just not as well. Beyond that I haven’t picked up any other books. I’m going to check out the PC HQ library tomorrow to see if they’ve got a few titles on my list.
Podcasts have been occupying a bit more of my time of late. Most of the podcasts I subscribe to last around an hour, which is about the same amount of time I take to cook each night. My favorites are The Nerdist and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Not only are they funny and interesting, but it’s refreshing to have an earnest slice of Americana each evening or every couple days. It grounds me, and reminds me that there continues to be a world that I left at home.
Work hasn’t begun yet, as the schools are still out for the summer and everyone (myself included) is so unmotivated during Ramadan that any efforts to begin anything would be virtually fruitless. When work does begin, I’ll probably fall into a more structured routine and maybe even update this blog with more frequency than every two months.
It’s wicked hot here. No joke. It hits 100F every day. I know I’ll regret saying this, but I’m anticipating the cold embrace of winter with excitement.
That’s where I ended. Reading through it, it’s certainly not my best work but I don’t have the motivation to edit it at all, so that‘s what you’re getting. Regarding the last line, I’ve come to regret saying that. It’s gotten cold, and every day it’s getting colder. Looking forward to next summer!